The Making of an Exhibition Store

The potters in place

Ceramics in place

If you’ve read curator Mel Buchanan’s posts Painting the Gallery Walls or Layers of Exhibition Paint, you already have a general sense of how an exhibition physically comes together.  A lot of those same processes apply to the execution of an exhibition store, as well.

While Impressionism: Masterworks on Paper was still in full swing, Director of Retail Operations Karen McNeely and Store Manager Jeanne Tripi met with the Museum’s Exhibition Designer John Irion to discuss the dimensions and the colors of the Accidental Genius: Art from the Anthony Petullo Collection exhibition store.  In fact, the Impressionism store and the Accidental Genius store are located in the exact same space–just the configuration of the walls has shifted.

Ceramics waiting to go on display

Ceramics waiting to go on display

Bearing in mind the available retail space and the art featured in the exhibition, Karen and her team of buyers started choosing or producing merchandise for the Accidental Geniusstore, which was gathered on rolling racks until it could be brought upstairs into Baker/Rowland Gallery to be displayed in the new store.

Product in storage

Product in storage

As the merchandise arrived at the Museum’s Southwest Dock, it was unpacked, counted, scrutinized for flaws, priced and organized on rolling racks by the store’s receiving team, Brieanne and Anna.

Christine and Jeanne survey the space

Christine and Jeanne survey the space

Jeanne considered all space, fixture and product information and plotted how to “merchandize” the items in a way that is compelling, unique, reflects the content as well as the spirit of the exhibition, and welcomes visitors to linger and shop.

Jeanne priming

Jeanne priming

Several sales associates came in to help Jeanne prime and paint fixtures and shelves.

Stevie and Dan work on the mural

Stevie and Dan work on the mural

For Accidental Genius, Stevie Weishan designed and painted her own original mural on the wall directly facing the exit doors of the exhibition store.  One afternoon, she enlisted the assistance of her artistically talented co-worker, Dan.

Anna renovating frames

Anna renovating frames

Earring display

Earring display

Anna chipped in to remove chicken wire from a frame, staple by staple—this winter, small French tumbled marble tiles hung from the wires in the Impressionism: Masterworks on Paper exhibition store.  The frame was given a couple coats of paint, mounted over some burlap and became an earthy and effective display for jewelry.

Closeup of Erin painting

Closeup of Erin painting

Erin came in to lend a hand by painting the retail ecosystem for the adorable stuffed blue monkey, inspired by David Pearce’s Monkey at the Door, on view in the exhibition.

Exhibition T-shirt

Exhibition T-shirt

Product Development lead Julia Jackson did a brilliant job creating Accidental Genius exhibition keepsakes like postcards, notecards, magnets and posters, fabulous mugs based on by Johann Garber’s Ein Leopard, and one of my favorite exhibition tees of all time, featuring a work by Albert Louden.  (If you look to the background of this image, you can see the blue monkey, swinging happily in the habitat that Erin and Jeanne created for him!)

Opening a featured exhibition store requires innovation every time: there are the new dimensions and layout to work with, new products, new colors, a new design aesthetic, and new problems to puzzle out.  Here are before and after shot, now that you have a fresh perspective on how much thought and hard work goes into this ever-changing little space!  Ta-da!  Hope to see you there soon!

An early view of the exhibition store

An early view of the exhibition store

Finished view of the exhibition store

Finished view of the exhibition store

All photos by Donele Pettit

Donele Pettit organizes events, promotions and communications specific to the Milwaukee Art Museum Store and loves to introduce art and design objects for visitors to take home and enjoy in their daily lives.
This entry was posted in Behind the Scenes, Exhibitions, Museum Store and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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